The best simplest mains to subwoofer integration?

sbo6

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May 19, 2014
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Round Rock, TX
#1
As some of my audiophile friends know my obsession with great bass continues. And the more I learn and listen it’s become increasingly apparent to me that in order to get true full - range effortless and accurate sound without compromise the ultimate in woofer to subwoofer integration would require converting / integrating my 4 – way Vivids to 5 - way with my subs rather than 4 ½ way (speaker woofers play as low as possible spec'd down to ~30Hz with subs overlapping ~45Hz) as almost everyone does. So the goal was:
  • Comply with Vivid Giya drivers’ specs covering about 2 octaves with the exception of the woofers (tweeter: 3.5K – ~16Khz, mid tweet – 880Hz – 3.5KHz, mid – 220Hz – 880Hz, woofers – 220Hz – 30Hz).
    • The woofers you will notice cover almost 3 octaves and the bottom octave is the most difficult to deliver let alone with low distortion. It’s also the most work for an amplifier as the Vivids dip to 4-5 ohms from 120Hz and below so. They are an easy load above as they slope from 8 ohms and higher from 200Hz+. So if I can take the frequency load off the woofers and the woofer amp to only manage 200Hz -> 80Hz, I lower the distortion of the woofers, increase available power from the woofer amp and can have a true 5 way with the subs managing the bottom 2 octaves.
  • Reduce the load on my preamp by moving the RCA sub outs from the preamp to high output -> low output converters. Currently my preamp has 2 pair of outputs which each amp occupies (1 for mids/highs, 1 for woofers). The subs are Y connected off the woofer amp RCAs - not a good solution. I've measured 1/4DB attenuation across the woofer frequency range with the 3rd subwoofer RCA outs connected = bad. This would alleviate the attenuation and hopefully result in a more balanced sound with possible better dynamics.
  • Path to (hopefully) success
    • Step 1: Removed the interconnects from the preamp out to the subwoofers by ordering / implementing custom Jensen high to low output subwoofer – specific converters. This takes the output from the amp, voltage divides it and attenuates it so the subwoofer can use it as an input (like Rel does). Specifically I had Jensen custom make the subwoofer – specific converters with Neutrik connectors inputs used in Pro Audio. This effectively reduced the output load on the preamp as it now only uses 2 pair of outputs to my amps. After integration the result was the best bass I’ve ever heard in my system. More dynamic, bigger soundstage and more effortless. I’ve rarely heard big, full bass this clean IMO. Maybe it was the scotch at the end
    • Step 2: To make the Vivids -> JLAs a true 5 - way I needed to employ a high pass filter. The challenges is – anything more than a first order alters the phase but provides a greater attenuation. So I made a simple 80Hz first order high pass (only a cap in series leveraging the input impedance from my amp). After initial subwoofer tuning I’m achieved +/- 2.3DB aligned to the Sean Olive curve from 15Hz – 10KHz.
What’s exciting to me is – these changes require no digital manipulation and no analog EQing. So no phase shifting, no driver sharing of frequencies from 0 - 70Hz, just room tuning, speaker and sub placement optimization and a capacitor per channel.

Listening after two days of subwoofer tuning yields to my ears some of the best bass I've heard. The silence between the notes is palpable, the soundstage is wall to wall on more material, the dynamics are startling, and most unexpected part - the clarity is incredible. Reviewing the REW data I think the main reason for the sonic benefits is the reduction of disruptive low frequency energy in the room versus before. Specifically, the low frequency decay is reduced (and not by much btw) since with the 5 - way no bass drivers' frequency ranges overlap. As a test I played one of my favorite SACDs, The Bassface Trio Plays Gershwin, a direct cut SACD from Stockfisch studios which always exhibited quite loud and boomy bass especially with notes that showcased my room modes. With the 5 way setup, the bass was still quite loud - but crystal clear without any boominess. Other recordings with prominent bass yielded the same results.
bft.PNG

Net is - Overlapping frequency duties even with optimal phase alignment are not as sonically beneficial as dedicated drivers per frequency ranges. Overlap can and does cause bass smearing and likely in many cases excessive decay. I urge anyone with a little DIY skill and subs integrated in he typical way to give this a try. With the mains out of the way for the bottom 2 octaves it should yield positive results for most IMO and IME. Happy Listening!


Steve
 
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LenWhite

Well-Known Member
Feb 11, 2011
379
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110
Florida
#2
Agree a subwoofer makes a big difference on speakers with integrated bass drivers. The next pair of speakers I get will probably be a 2.5 way focusing on great mids and highs. The sub will take care of the lows.

I use a JL Audio CR-1 active crossover with a JL Audio F212v2 sub. The crossover is set at 80Hz with the phase aligned tp the stereo mains.

The stereo amp and mains are relieved on the low frequency burdens.
 
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Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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#3
Hello Steve,

Can you please give us some insight into what you mean, above, by "palpable" silence?
 

sbo6

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May 19, 2014
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Round Rock, TX
#4
Hi Ron,

With what I believe is primarily due to reduced decay time for lower frequencies but may also be a result of reducing the load on the preamp and / or the lack of competing bass from the mains and the subwoofers, there is a "silence between the notes" as they say, but with bass frequencies which are often physically felt they have become more distinct, almost more staccato to use a musical term. The way this adds to getting closer to the original event cannot be understated IMO. I hope this helps clarify what I was getting at above.
 

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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#5
Thank you for elaborating.
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
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#6
Hello Steve,

Can you please give us some insight into what you mean, above, by "palpable" silence?
Hey Ron,
FWIW, I am happy to share my own experience with palpable silence which is driven expressly by subs which is the topic of this thread.

When we are playing jazz, there are often silences after a song ends but before the track recording itself was stopped...and you still get that sense of venue around you. And then as soon as the recording actually ends, it is literally 'SNAP' you are back in the room, and you move and the sound of your movement is instantly back to the actual walls and furniture in the room.

But as soon as the next track starts, if there is silence before the music begins, that sense of large void takes over again. And it is actually disconcerting if you are working while playing jazz (I always work to music at home in the evenings which is why i get to enjoy the system for so many hours a week even if working long hours at the office.)...that suddenly you 'snap back' into the sound of the room itself which is quite stark and abrupt...until the next track, and then you are audibly away again back in the jazz venue.

THAT is what the sub does, where this effect 'mainly' disappears when you turn off the sub in our system. This is my personal definition of/experience with 'palpable silence'.
 
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Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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#7
Very, very well explained, LL21! Now I totally understand!

Thank you!
 

Emre Üçöz

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Aug 1, 2011
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#8
LL21 your explanation is really perfect. I was thinking the ame the other day. and was trying yo figure out how.
 

LL21

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Dec 26, 2010
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#9
Thanks, Ron and Emre! Emre - it has been a long time. Hope you are well. Admiring your system as always. I know the SF Strad well and also the Metronome Kalista Ref...with those Soulutions must be an amazing combination!

BTW, did you read Jeff Dorgay's review of the REL 25 6-pack of subwoofers? He used them with his references...the SF Strad! See the photos for some fun!

https://www.tonepublications.com/review/relno25sixpack/
 
Likes: dbeau
May 12, 2018
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Perth, WA
#10
Hi sbo6,

Thanks for sharing your experiment.

Can you show me, perhaps in a photo, how you implemented the high pass filter at 80Hz with a cap.
Is the value of the cap universal between systems?

I always thought there is a 90˚ phase shift with a 1st order cap.
Not sure if it's audible but it may be there nonetheless.

Geoff
 

Lagonda

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Feb 4, 2014
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#11
Thanks, Ron and Emre! Emre - it has been a long time. Hope you are well. Admiring your system as always. I know the SF Strad well and also the Metronome Kalista Ref...with those Soulutions must be an amazing combination!

BTW, did you read Jeff Dorgay's review of the REL 25 6-pack of subwoofers? He used them with his references...the SF Strad! See the photos for some fun!

https://www.tonepublications.com/review/relno25sixpack/
Wow, talk about hyperbole ! All those crying listeners, wrought up in emotion ;)
 

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#12
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Lagonda

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#13

bonzo75

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Feb 26, 2014
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#14
And you preferred the system with the subs off if i remember correctly ;)
Yes to an extent, either way they won't make that much difference. In this particular set up, for example, the cart, phono, recordings, and the tubes used in the amp would have much more influence on whether you are enjoying the music or not.

And yes, horns would have been many levels better in that room
 

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